Posted on October 21st, 2013 by Rachel
For those of you lucky enough to have already seen our new exhibit, Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War, you might have noticed this portrait in the beginning of the exhibit, of Betsey Wiesenfeld, neè Friedenwald.
You might also have read the letter written by Betsey’s young daughter, Rosa Wiesenfeld, to her father while he was in prison during the war.
What you might not know, is that we have a celebrity in our midst. Beloved, long-time volunteer, Betsey Kahn, is Rosa’s granddaughter, and is Betsey Wiesenfeld’s namesake! The next time you see Betsey at the front desk, try to see if you can spot the family resemblance!
A blog post by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik. To read more posts by Abby, click here.
Posted on October 18th, 2013 by Rachel
Nearly 200 people joined us at the JMM this past weekend (Oct. 12 and 13) to celebrate the opening of Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War. The exhibit comes to us from the American Jewish Historical Society and Yeshiva University Museum and has been enhanced by the JMM to include artifacts and stories that reflect the role of Maryland Jews in the war.
The exhibit sheds light on both how the Jewish community (which numbered 150,000 in 1860) participated in the war as well as how the war impacted the community.
Here are some of the opening event highlights:
guests in gallery
At Saturday evening’s members’ preview, guests enjoyed viewing the fascinating artifacts on display especially those that told local stories. It was fun hearing the chatter in the gallery as people constantly exclaimed how surprised they were to learn about the extent of Jewish involvement in the war effort.
Guest using the stereoscope viewer
The JMM installation featured several new activity stations. Here a guest explores the section of the exhibit on Civil War era photography by testing out a stereoscope viewer.
2nd South Carolina String Band
With their authentic period costumes and instruments, music of the Second South Carolina String Band gave the lobby a Civil War-era feel.
Karen leading tour
JMM curator Karen Falk led two filled-to-capacity exhibit tours where she shared stories about individual artifacts and stories on display.
Marvin leading tour
JMM executive director Marvin Pinkert premiered our new 1861 themed tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue for guests at Saturday’s event. This tour takes visitors back in time to the 1860s as they explore what Jewish life was like in Baltimore at this time as well as the important role that the Lloyd Street Synagogue (then Baltimore Hebrew Congregation) played in the debate on slavery. This new tour will be given daily (Sun-Thurs) at 3pm.
We are so grateful to the two students from the Baltimore School for the Arts who attended the event in period costume. It was especially fun watching Amelia navigate tight corners in her hoop dress. Thank goodness fashion trends have changed!
guests viewing objects in case
Our member’s preview was followed by a successful opening to the public on Sunday. We were delighted to see many people – both longtime friends to the JMM and first time visitors – take in the exhibit. Many people brought their children who enjoyed playing with the exhibit’s activity stations.
visitor talking to re-enactor
On Sunday, we were privileged to have two Civil War re-enactors attend in authentic soldier uniforms. Guests enjoyed having the opportunity to speak with them as they learned about their uniforms’ details and items of significance.
Jonathan Karp, former director of the American Jewish Historical Society and one of the exhibit’s project directors, provided fascinating insights on the development of the exhibit and shared some of his favorite stories with our guests.
Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War is on display at the Jewish Museum of Maryland through February 28, 2014. We hope you will stop by for a visit.
A blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts by Deborah, click here. All photos by Will Kirk.
Posted on October 18th, 2013 by Rachel
A Token of Our Appreciation
A special treat!
If you were among the guests at Saturday members’ preview for Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War, you walked away with a replica of a sutler’s token from Lazarus Goldheim, a Baltimore-born merchant assigned to J.E.B. Stuart’s 1st Virginia Cavalry. To be more precise you walked away with an “improvement” on the sutler’s token – since this one was large enough to read AND it was made of chocolate! The token was a fitting symbol for our opening weekend, as we took the powerful story of the Jewish experience in the Civil War and made enhancements that made the topic, the exhibit and our greatest Civil War artifact, the Lloyd Street Synagogue, more accessible to the public.
Marvin gives the inaugural “1861″ Tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.
In this issue of Performance Counts, I have asked my colleagues to share some of the details about our very successful launch of the project. But before we get to what we accomplished, I want to offer my own “token of appreciation” to those who provided the financial support that enabled every aspect of the project – from shipping the artifacts, to developing new Maryland content, to creating family activities and school group curricula to the opening events themselves. First on my list of thank yous is Barbara Katz who not only provided her personal support to the exhibit through the Morris Schapiro and Family Foundation, but also led the charge in encouraging the generosity of others. Our lead gifts came from Willard and Lillian Hackerman/Whiting Turner and the Middendorf Foundation. Major funding was also provided by the Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation, Richard and Rosalee C. Davison Foundation, the Eliasberg Family Foundation and the Gottesman Fund. Additional funding came from the Lois and Irving Blum Foundation, Stiles Colwill, the Miller Family Gift Fund, Nancy Kohn Rabin and the Joseph Smelkinson Foundation. As the cavalry needed it’s sutler for all its essential supplies, we relied on this exceptional group of philanthropists to achieve our “battlefield” objective.
~Marvin Pinkert, Executive Director
The 2nd South Carolina String Band
The opening of Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War came in two parts. At our special members’ preview on Saturday night, we enjoyed the music of the 2nd South Carolina String Band, a band of musical re-enactors. They played throughout the night which helped set the mood. To enhance the evening refreshments included Civil War-era punch, which was enjoyed by all. In addition, two students from the Baltimore School for the Arts attended in period costume which enhanced the event ambiance.
Baltimore School for the Arts Students
On Sunday we launched the exhibit’s public opening. The highlight of the day was a talk by Jonathan Karp who travelled from New York. As one of the exhibition’s curators, Jonathan provided fascinating insights on the development of the exhibit. We also welcomed two Civil War re-enactors, who came in full dress. They enjoyed talking to visitors about the different elements and significance of the details of their outfits.
Interacting with a re-enactor!
Opening By the Numbers
Exploring the exhibit
Saturday evening attendance: 105 members and guests
Sunday public opening attendance: 91 people
Total attendance for both days: 196
Total Admission from Sunday: $335
Zip Code most represented in our attendance log: 21208
Karen gives a special Curator’s Tour
An activity station
Our members came out in large numbers for Sunday’s opening which was also heavily attended by non-members who had previously visited the JMM. This reflects positively on the Museum’s marketing efforts with our membership and with the public in general about the opening. Our tag line “explore the Civil War you never knew” seems to have successfully appealed to people who were enticed to visit on opening day. In addition to the new exhibit, members and individuals who had previously visited were excited to have the opportunity to hear Jonathan Karp speak as well as follow on the 1861 synagogue tour. We were also delighted to see family groups in attendance and children had a wonderful time interacting with the educational stations set up in the exhibit.
Our stereo-graph activity station